Former leader's move may irk National Front

BY JEFF NEEMS
Last updated 12:43 06/05/2009

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The president of the far-right National Front political party believes members may feel betrayed by their former leader's decision to turn his back on them.

In a radical change to his life, former National Front leader Kyle Chapman moved to Hamilton, where last week he married devout Mormon Claire Clifford.

Mr Chapman, a former skinhead and considered the poster boy of New Zealand's white supremacist movement, has committed to the Mormon faith.

He said he no longer wanted to live an "extreme right wing lifestyle" and hoped for "a peaceful life with Claire".

Taranaki-based Colin Ansell, the National Front's current president, said he had not had any feedback from National Front members about Mr Chapman's move, but expected he would "bound to be" the subject of discussion among members.

"There'd be a bit of talk going on. Some people would be disappointed," he said.

"I think a lot of people who signed on to his ideas would probably feel betrayed.

"I'd urge those people just to stop and think about what is important to the National Front."

While Mr Chapman had a "loyal following", some National Front members "will probably be glad to see him go", Mr Ansell said.

Mr Chapman's change of lifestyle came as no surprise: "He chops and changes his tune that many times, it's a hard job keeping up with him.

"He's not a member of the National Front, and can do what he wants."

Members were in and out of the group all the time, like any political party, Mr Ansell said.

He bore no ill feeling to Mr Chapman, wished him well with his marriage, and said Mr Chapman could rejoin the National Front as an "ordinary member" in future if he wished.

"He's entitled to seek a private life. (But) he'll find it tough, there will be some elements who will pick on him."

The National Front was aiming to be a "broad spectrum nationalist movement to give New Zealanders pride in their country", but had "a strong view on immigration", he added. He did not consider the group to be "extreme right wing", but confirmed skinheads were still "active" members. The group has had numerous different leaders in recent years.

Kerry Bolton, a former secretary of the National Front, said he could "fully identify" with Mr Chapman's experience.

Mr Bolton left the group because of extremist elements joining the National Front members he believed Mr Chapman had been "too lenient" with, and may now feel betrayed.

"He left the NF a few years ago, and he has been a Mormon for a long time.I think there might've been a change in public image he still regards himself as a patriot, and that's quite different to being a race hater."

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Mr Chapman "didn't strike me as a hateful bloke", Mr Bolton said, adding his association with skinheads and "menacing blokes" may have created an unfair reflection of Mr Chapman.

"It's an image you wouldn't want." Mr Bolton offered Mr Chapman "good luck, and congratulations" on his lifestyle change and marriage.

- Waikato Times

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